In the world of nutrition, the dirty dozen is a list of produce that has the highest level of pesticides. In the world of marketing…we have some similar pests that can plague us.
In fact, this happens more often than not as businesses, professionals, sales people and marketers are overwhelmed with the number of tools and platforms. Most are either using them incorrectly or not using them at all out of fear that they’ll make mistakes.
There’s a list of spoken and unspoken rules of etiquette and best practices that when you’re aware of them you’ll be more comfortable and confident in using social media for business.
To help you out, I am creating a series of Dirty Dozen articles, which will help you to avoid the biggest mistakes in etiquette and best practices on the most popular social media platforms.
I am starting this series with my favorite social media platform, LinkedIn. These mistakes on LinkedIn range from simply keeping you hidden from the people you want to connect and build relationships with, to in a worst-case scenario, making you look unprofessional and possibly getting you blocked or banned from the platform.
Don’t make these twelve key mistakes on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn’s Dirty Dozen & How to Avoid Them
1. You’ve made your profile all about YOU
One of the biggest mistakes you can make on LinkedIn is to make your profile all about you.
The truth is that nobody cares about you — they care about what you can do for them.
People are far more interested in what you can do for them, than they are about you. Keep in mind that people are always viewing your profile through their WIIFM filter – what’s in it for me.
With this in mind, you need to find a way to position all of your knowledge, skills and experience in a way that clearly shows how it can benefit the people you are targeting, whether that is potential prospects and clients, partners, organizations or employers.
Speak directly to your target market. When they land on your profile, you want your potential clients to know they’re in the right place and that you are the person who can help them with their specific problems.
2. Don’t add symbols, words, acronyms, company name in your name field
First and foremost, putting something other than your name in the name field is a violation of LinkedIn’s TOS (Terms of Service) and can get your account restricted.
But beyond this breach of contract, putting something other than your name in the name field just makes you harder to find, makes you look unprofessional and reduces your credibility.
As LinkedIn also mentions, adding something like your email address to your name field also exposes you to spammers and potential identity thieves.
Now there are exceptions. They include things such as suffixes and certifications (adding it to the Last Name field such as Ph. D) as well as former names, maiden names and nicknames (as these can make you easier to find by those who know you).
You can learn more about what is allowed and what is not, on LinkedIn’s help page.
3. No professional headshot
It is a mistake to not have a LinkedIn profile photo. You must have a photo of you, not a company logo, not a family vacation picture, just a nice clean headshot of you.
And while it is beneficial to include any image of you, you can greatly increase the trust potential viewers have in you by including a professionally taken headshot. Did you know that LinkedIn profiles with a professional headshot get 14 times more profile views than those that don’t?
Remember you only have seconds to make a positive impression.
Don’t miss the opportunity to make a great first impression by ensuring that the image is set with a clean background and focuses on your eyes and smile.
4. Having a boring headline and summary
When someone lands on your LinkedIn profile, you have seconds to impress them, to make them want to learn more about you.
The very first thing they will see is your headline and the first two lines of your summary section.
If you don’t grab their attention, they will click away and the opportunity is lost.
You have 120 characters in your headline to succinctly tell people who you are and what you do.
You can further expand on this in the first two lines of your summary section. Try to make readers curious and click the “See more” link and learn more about you.
5. Not adding social proof to your profile
It is vital that you include social proof in your LinkedIn profile.
Social proof greatly increases your credibility and ability to establish yourself as an authority. LinkedIn has made social proof easy by incorporating sections for Recommendations and Skills & Endorsements on your profile.
Recommendations are a vital part of establishing trust and building relationships by helping people to know and like you. This is the ultimate form of social proof on LinkedIn.
Ask those you have worked with to provide you with a recommendation, and be sure to personalize your request to them. This should go without saying but, do NOT ask someone you don’t know for a recommendation.
While Skills & Endorsements don’t have the same weight and credibility as the Recommendations section, they do increase your level of social proof and improve your search ranking. Add a list of relevant skills to your profile thus making it easy for people to endorse you for those skills.
6. Failing to personalize connection requests
I get it, LinkedIn makes it VERY easy to accidentally send the default connection request, both on desktop and mobile.
You have to consciously and actively avoid sending the default invitation as well as take the time to do a little research and write a personalized connection request.
But you should absolutely make the effort to personalize every request you send. Always remind them of how they know you or explain why they should connect with you
While this not only increases the likelihood, they will click accept, it also decreases the chances that they will report you as spam.
If people click I Don’t Know This Person one to many times, you will end up having your account restricted, which requires you to enter an email address when sending any future LinkedIn invitations and reducing your ability to connect and expand your network.
7. Don’t send the creepy “I saw you viewed my profile” message
While you absolutely should regularly check out who’s viewed your profile to look for connection opportunities, don’t make the mistake of sending them a message saying, “I saw you viewed my profile”.
If viewing your profile was enough of a reason for them to connect with you, they would have done so already.
So, if you want to connect, find another reason to make the request.
8. Don’t forget to follow up with new connections
If someone has hundreds or thousands of connections, there is a really good chance that they will connect with you and forget about you.
That is, unless you continue the conversation and build a relationship with them. You do this by sending them a personalized message thanking them for connecting. This is also a great way to get to know you new connection. This step is the crucial difference between simply adding connections to your network and building real relationships.
No matter how many connections you have, they will be of no benefit if you do not take the time and effort to build relationships with your connections.
It is NOT a numbers game.
9. Spam is more subtle than you realize
Whether you have just connected or have been connected for years, it is a relationship faux pas to send irrelevant and annoying messages to your connections.
By irrelevant messages I mean those blanket emails that people send out that are not personalized in any way and in no way, relevant to that particular connection.
For example, if your connection is not in a health-related profession and does not live in your local area, it makes absolutely no sense to send them a message telling them that you will have a booth at an upcoming Doctor’s Convention.
They probably don’t care and won’t find value from this – it also comes across as self-serving and spammy.
What is spam? Very simply, it’s anything that the receiver doesn’t find value in receiving.
For example, if you have just connected with someone or they have accepted your connection request, do NOT send them anything sales related, they will consider that spam.
Everything you send to your connections should be positioned for their benefit, not yours.
10. Posting too much personal information
LinkedIn is not Facebook or Twitter. This is a professional network.
For the most part, a good rule of thumb is to not post anything on LinkedIn that isn’t related to business. Keep it professional at all times or you risk losing your credibility and trust with your connections.
This doesn’t mean you can ever post anything of a personal nature, but limit it and consider your audience on LinkedIn before doing so.
11. Be inactive on LinkedIn
It is extremely easy for anyone viewing your profile to see just how active…or rather inactive you are on LinkedIn.
Active engagement will keep you top of mind with your connections and is a key ingredient to successful networking and relationship building. You cannot build relationships and stay top of mind with your connections if you are not present and having conversations with them.
A great way to stay active and visible is by posting a status update once a day as well as posting to LinkedIn Publisher if you write articles. Also, engage with the posts and articles of your connections in your newsfeed.
12. LION (LinkedIn Open Networker)
A LION is defined as a LinkedIn Open Networker, which basically means that the person will accept a connection request from everyone and anyone who sends them one.
Now you might be thinking, don’t I want to build a large network?
Yes, you do, but quality is actually more important than the quantity of your network and you should be selective. You want to connect with people who have put some time and effort into making sure they are connecting with the right people.
Your network will be far more useful if you focus in on connecting with the people you know as well as your peers, industry and ideal clients. There is zero benefit for you to connect with spam and fake accounts which sadly many LIONs are.
Being a LION can also hurt your credibility and authority. A true authority can build a strong, powerful network without being an Open Networker. Now having said that, you can and should connect with anyone that it makes sense for you to.
By avoiding these twelve perilous mistakes on LinkedIn, you will greatly increase your success building relationships and establishing your credibility with your connections.
Have you ever been guilty of one or more of LinkedIn’s dirty dozen? What other major mistakes do you see on LinkedIn? Let me know in the comments below.